Tesla’s Reliability Ratings Are Pretty Concerning But Does Anyone Actually Care?

Tesla is known for proving that electric vehicles can be popular. However, what Tesla isn’t known for is reliability. While its vehicles may be desirable, Consumer Reports’ data shows that most models have earned pretty dismal reliability ratings. But does anyone actually care? Not really. Because as unreliable as these Tesla models may be, they all earned some pretty impressive owner satisfaction ratings.   

A Tesla store sign is seen on January 23, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China
A Tesla store | Getty Images

These Tesla models have a glaring reliability problem

The words Tesla and reliability don’t exactly go hand in hand. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, you shouldn’t expect most Tesla models to be that reliable. First, consider the Tesla Model S. While Consumer Reports’ data shows that the 2013 and the 2017 Tesla Model S earned a four out of five reliability rating, most model years struggled to earn anything over a three out of five. Some model years didn’t even manage to score higher than a one out of five.

It’s a similar story for the Tesla Model X. According to Consumer Reports, the current model earned a two out of five predicted reliability rating. As for the 2019 model? It earned a one out of five reliability rating. Only the 2017 and the 2019 Tesla Model X earned a three out of five reliability rating.

The Tesla Model Y and the Tesla Model 3 share the same problem as well. Consumer Reports has never given the Model Y more than a one out of five reliability rating. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 has only managed a four out of five reliability rating once. Other than that, Consumer Reports has given most model years a less than impressive reliability rating.

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Elon Musk fessed up to Tesla’s build quality problem

So why is reliability such a struggle for Tesla? For most models, it comes down to issues with body integrity and hardware. But that shouldn’t be all that surprising to hear. After all, Tesla is known for its build quality problems.

In 2018, engineering consultant Sandy Munro, released a scathing review of the Model 3, calling out “flaws that we would see on a Kia in the ’90s.” He went so far as to point out quality problems like uneven gaps between exterior panels and paint job issues. In a recent interview with Munro, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that Tesla has faced these kinds of quality issues for years. “I thought your criticism was accurate,” Musk admitted to Munro in the interview. 

But even if Musk hadn’t fessed up to Tesla’s quality problem, there’s plenty of evidence showing that Tesla does have a quality problem. In fact, the brand was ranked the lowest of 32 brands in the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. The reasoning behind the low ranking? Build quality issues. According to the survey, Tesla received a score of 205 problems per 100 vehicles, marking the highest among all of the automotive brands surveyed.

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But, as it turns out, these models are still liked by owners

But, in the end, people still love their Teslas. Consumer Reports’ data shows that most Tesla models earn a five out of five owner satisfaction rating. Even the Tesla Model Y, which earned a one out of five predicted reliability rating, earned a five out of five predicted owner satisfaction rating. 91% of owners even said they’d buy the vehicle again.

That’s not all that shocking, however. Take a closer look at each model’s owner satisfaction scores, and it’s easy to see why owners love their Teslas so much. Each vehicle earned extremely high marks in road tests. Comfort seems to be a winning category for Tesla too. And style? Well, according to Tesla owners, the brand has got that covered.

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Is buying a Tesla worth it?

But does all of this mean that you should buy a Tesla? After all, it seems current owners are pretty happy with their purchase. But in this case, it really depends. As happy as Tesla owners may be, there’s no getting around the company’s reliability and build quality issues.